Not really a Heavenly Tree

Commonly called the tree of heaven, this invasive plant is anything but! Also referred to as Chinese sumac,  Ailanthus altissima is a highly invasive tree in California. It can grow three feet a year, cloning itself via underground suckers or through the hundreds of thousands of seeds each tree produces every year.

This notorious plant outcompetes native species by forming dense thickets and producing chemicals that impact the growth of neighboring plants. It also emits a bad smell from its flowers, has no natural predators, and serves as a host plant for several destructive invasive insects like the spotted lanternfly.

There’s some hope of control on the horizon.  The fungus Verticillium nonalfalfae, believed to be native to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio, has been found to be “highly effective” as a control against Ailanthus. The fungus kills it by essentially clogging the plant’s vascular system and starving it of water.

If you find a volunteer growing in your yard, it’s recommended that you remove it.  Learn more about this invasive plant.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll to Top